May 5 is a special day, isn’t it?
No, not just that. This blog post is about World Password Day, which is the first Thursday in the month of May. So put down the margarita and pay attention.
Answer this question truthfully: When was the last time you changed your passwords?
It’s a topic that’s been discussed on this blog often, and the sad thing is the numbers never change. Nearly half of all users haven’t changed their passwords in more than five years, and eighty percent of users use the same password for multiple websites, both at work and on personal accounts.
By the way, do you know where passwords for computer use came from? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, that’s where. Scientists there created the computer password to enable multiple people to us a shared system.
They created the password in 1961. You have to wonder how many of those original passwords are still in use.
World Password Day is not as old as the password, though. Intel declared the day a year ago to call attention to the fact that you haven’t changed your password since your freshman year.
Now, it’s hard to remember the passwords for all the sites you use. One alternative to consider is a passphrase. NIST, aka the National Institute of Standards and Technology, explains a passphrase as the following:
- A passphrase is a memorized secret consisting of a sequence of words or other text that a claimant uses to authenticate their identity. A passphrase is similar to a password in usage but is generally longer for added security.
- An example of a passphrase would be “ ColdPizzaisgreatforBreakfast” or “Iprefermycoffeewithcreamer”
Another option to consider is a password manager. The best password management and password keeper tools can generate smart passwords for you, sync them across multiple sites, and protect them with high-end encryption software that keeps you safe from bad actors and cyberhackers.
You may wonder why people are harping on this topic year after year. The basic reason is that a compromised password can literally cost millions.
IBM publishes an annual report on the cost of a data breach. Last year the company reported that the average cost of a data breach was $4.24 million.
That’s 4,240,000 dollars.
And that’s the average, so there are data breaches that cost less and breaches that cost much more.
The most common cause of a data breach was compromised credentials, including passwords, according to the report. That’s the reason people constantly, or at least annually, tell you to change your passwords.
So do it now. Then you can go back to your margarita and we’ll talk passwords again on May 4, 2023.